With its season virtually on the line in a must-win contest against Liberty on Oct. 17, someone had to step up under the bright lights for Little Elm.
With the score deadlocked at 24 apiece with just over two minutes to go, the Lobos marched down the field in need of a field goal to escape with a victory in a game in which they had already squandered a 14-point lead.
In high school football, however, that’s much easier said than done, and often times a touchdown is ultimately needed in that situation with the game on the line.
But that isn’t the case for Little Elm.
That’s because the Lobos suddenly have one of the more sought-after kickers in the state in senior Tyler Tipton, who booted the biggest field goal of his life in the closing seconds from a whopping 48 yards out to ground the Redhawks, 27-24.
The last-second triumph kept Little Elm alive in the District 5-5A Division I playoff race, mainly because of Tipton’s heroics even after being iced by Liberty prior to snapping the ball.
“I honestly never thought that would happen,” Tipton said. “I thought that was stuff other people do, and that it would never happen to me but it happened. After the game was crazy, and it all started after I picked my head up on the kick and saw it going straight. It was just a feeling of relief, but after the relief it was excitement, and I was happy I could do it for the team.”
That game was just Tipton’s seventh ever on the gridiron — not just with the varsity squad, but on a high school football team, in general.
Throughout his high school career, Tipton had solely focused on soccer in his freshman year and then transitioned into playing just tennis as a sophomore and junior.
But one day roughly a year ago, Tipton wanted to tag along with his younger brother, Tanner, as he went to the field to practice kicking with their father, Tony.
After not connecting on his first few attempts, it took Tyler crushing a 55-yard bomb that same day to realize that he might have a future in the sport. Soon after, he began taking lessons with Tanner’s kicking coach, former Washington Redskins kicker Scott Blanton, and things took off from there.
“Weirdly enough, [Tanner] has been my inspiration through it all,” Tyler said. “He always rubs it in my face and lets me know that he’s the one that taught me how to do it. The roles are definitely flipped.”
Soon after beginning his training with Blanton, Tyler attended various kicking camps during the summer at schools like Baylor and North Texas. After not performing how he had liked at those two, Tyler had his coming-out party at SMU and later at Texas State and Georgetown, where he shined above the rest of the competition.
Fast-forward a couple of months and a game-winning field goal later, Tyler received a full-ride scholarship to Tulsa, something that is fairly rare for kickers coming out of high school.
Not long after, he made his verbal commitment to Tulsa on Sunday, and he knew it was the obvious decision for many reasons.
“Tulsa is one of those schools that checked off everything I wanted in a college,” he said. “It’s four hours away from my house, which is a great distance, and I also want to go into their pre-med program.”
Not to mention, Tulsa is fresh off of its sixth loss of the season after falling, 42-41, to Memphis in a game in which its starting kicker missed three field goals.
With kicking potentially an area of need for the Golden Hurricanes moving forward, Tyler believes he can step in and potentially fill that weakness as a freshman.
“I feel pretty confident in my training, and I plan on putting in as much work as I possibly can in the offseason so I can make sure to be that guy for them,” he said.